Who am I suing after a road accident?

March 9, 2021

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Car & Road Injuries

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We all use due care when driving or riding on the road. But from time to time, accidents can and do happen.

If you’re not the one at fault, it seems unfair to be out of pocket with loss of income, medical bills, and rehab costs. So you decide to make a compensation claim for your injuries. But who do you actually make the claim against?

The answers we hear vary from the other driver to the local council, or their comprehensive insurer. Would you believe us if we said none of these were correct?

We break it down.

A compensation claim is usually against the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurer of the other vehicle

Have you ever looked at your car registration notice and wondered what CTP is for?

The CTP insurance component that you pay on your car registration is your safety net if someone is unfortunately injured in an accident and you’re either partially or wholly not at fault.

Out of the 4.3 million registered vehicles in the 2018/19 period, there were 5502 claims against CTP in Queensland. The most common age group to have made a CTP claim that period was the 26-35 years.

If you yourself need to make a compensation claim, it’s usually against the CTP insurer of the vehicle which caused the accident. Any compensation usually comes from the funds that the insurance company sets aside from the premiums collected.

This means that, generally speaking, the owner of the vehicle at fault will not be out of pocket for the settlement. However, after a claim is made against the owner’s policy, it is possible that their premiums will increase the next year – but this is very different to paying out the amount awarded in a compensation claim.

There are four CTP insurers in Queensland:

  • Suncorp
  • RACQ Insurance
  • Allianz, and
  • QBE Insurance

If you hold separate comprehensive insurance with another insurer, this is usually not included in the CTP claim process. Those insurance policies are designed to cover things like replacement vehicles or property damage where there are no injuries.

What if the at-fault party doesn’t have CTP?

If the vehicle at fault in the accident isn’t registered, or is stolen, or can’t be identified (as is usually the case in a hit and run), don’t panic. There’s a second safety net you may be able to access.

There’s a statutory body called the Nominal Defendant that is designed to handle these situations, including if you’re injured as a result of an accident with an uninsured vehicle. They essentially “step in” as the at-fault party to negotiate an outcome of a compensation claim.

But in the instance the person, or thief is identified, they may be personally liable for damages or injuries incurred. Generally, no insurance will be available to them if they were involved in an illegal act.

Unfortunately, because of this, recovering the funds from the driver of a stolen car may be difficult, or impossible, if they have no financial assets. That said, seeking legal advice early is a good idea to help you protect your rights.

What does CTP cover?

A compensation claim against a CTP insurer should cover you for any losses as a result of your injuries, which may include:

  • Time off of work (either time you’ve already had, or may have in the future)
  • Lost superannuation
  • Medical costs
  • Ongoing care
  • Pain and suffering

The most common injuries involved in CTP claims by area on the body are spine, lower extremity (hip, knee, thigh, leg, foot) and upper extremity (arms and hands).

Strict time limits apply when making a compensation claim for road accident injuries.

If you’re unlucky enough to be in a road accident, it’s best to be prepared. We’ve created a guide on the steps you should take after a road accident in our blog. Check it out here.